Handbook and Guides

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Long-term Athlete Development

Long-term Athlete Development (LTAD) is about achieving the correct training, competition and recovery throughout a young athlete’s career, particularly in relation to the important growth and development years of young people. It provides a framework within which all sports should plan their training and competition programmes.

Swimming has recognised this framework since undertaking a review of age group swimming at the end of the 1990’s.

Age Group swimming is about providing the appropriate opportunities for young people with particular reference to their growth and development.  All human beings go through the same developmental stages from childhood to adulthood, though these stages can be different at times and each stage can vary in length.  There is also a gender difference in that girls tend to develop earlier than boys.

One of the central messages from the LTAD swimming framework is that competition should be regarded as an integral part of a swimmer’s training programme.  Age Group and Youth swimming provide opportunities for young people to develop their potential in preparation for senior swimming.  Towards this goal, consideration should be given to the physiological, psychological and emotional development of the young swimmer.

There are five stages which can be used to describe growth and development.  These equate to the five stages of the LTAD framework for swimming:

1. FUNdamentals—Childhood

2. SwimSkills—Late Childhood

3. Training to Train—Adolescence

4. Training to Compete—Early Adulthood

5. Training to Win—Adulthood.

Studies have shown that swimmers who do not specialise early may have a slower initial increase in performance; however, they ultimately reach a higher level of achievement and are more likely to have a longer life in the sport.  This is in contrast to early specialisation, which may produce an initial rapid increase in performance, but a lower level of achievement and early retirement

For any more information please check out the British Swimming website – http://www.britishswimming.org/vsite/vnavsite/page/directory/0,10853,5157-180200-197418-nav-list,00.html